Monday, January 16, 2012

Being Digvijay Singh in today’s Politics

I never thought I would write a blog about a living politician!

It is not that I have anything against politicians; I refrain only because I don’t find most of them inspiring and I know no one would anyway, be willing to read with an open mind. Both the supporters and detractors of a politician have set notions about any him/her and any contrary views will not be accepted with openness.

However, Mr Digvijay Singh, the Congress General Secretary, changed that.  The reason is that, in my opinion, he stands out from today’s average Indian politicians!

Look at the amount of hate Mr Digvijay Singh manages to generate from a section of people. This section is thankfully not a majority, yet is very vocal and always striving hard to make sure other moderate views are not heard.

Let us see the factors that not only make him target of such negative attention but also earns my respect for him:

Grassroots Politics
In Indian politics, there are not many leaders who wouldn’t grab any executive positions that come across him/her.  So many out of job Chief Ministers have stopped working for their parties in their respective states and taken up ministerial positions in the comfort of New Delhi.  Digvijay Singh is an exception to this general rule. Instead of taking up any cabinet position that is his for asking, he has chosen to work for his Party in a state like Uttar Pradesh, where the Party stands completely decimated.

Compare this with other ‘tall’ leaders of Congress. When the stakes are down many of them go back to their primary careers like legal practice, only to come back and take up prime portfolios once the Party is back in power! Most of them do not believe in street level politics; that is below their inflated dignity!

Anti-corruption Politics
Consider Mr Singh’s position on Anna and his movement. Anna had in the past, closely worked with Mr Singh, when he was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.  Yet it did not deter Mr Singh to call the bluff of Anna’s movement, when vast majority of speaking India was still rallying behind Anna.  Time has proved Mr Singh right, with Anna and his Team not even knowing what to do next and more and more people now openly expressing their differences with the methods and demands of Team Anna.

Mr Singh was successful in drawing out the bad side of Mr Anna Hazare, when Anna demanded that Mr Singh be put in mental asylum for criticising the latter.  Many cheered Anna for saying that; but when he continued with “only one slap?” and “Flogging" etc, people generally understood the dark side of Anna.

Compare the stand of Mr Singh with the flip-flops of other Congress leaders. One day they arrest Anna; next day they beg him to go out of jail... One day they accuse Anna of corruption; next day they apologise... One day they refuse to talk to Anna; next day they send Cabinet Ministers as emissaries to him! 

Same was the case with Baba Ramdev as well.  Digvijay Singh was the only Congress leader to have consistently opposed Baba Ramdev and his so called apolitical movement.

Look at the quagmire that BJP President Gadkari has brought himself to fall into by challenging Digvijay Singh with a legal notice.  Digvijay Singh is still standing tall, having refused to apologise and expressing his willingness to fight Gadkari in court, while Gadkari is struggling to save himself from the avalanche of serious allegations.

Minority Politics
Digvijay Singh has been consistent in taking up minority related issues. In India, with experiments between soft Hindutva and hard Hindutva taking root among political parties and the general labelling of Muslims as proponents of terror, the silent India was finding it increasingly difficult to stand up for issues related to minorities, especially, Muslims.  Politicians generally are seen maintaining the equivocal positions so that they are not seen as anti-Hindu.  The interested parties have succeeded in branding anyone who speaks out for Muslims and their rights as anti-Hindu!

Against this backdrop, Digvijay Singh consistently takes up issues concerning Muslim community. I may not agree with some of those issues that he raised.  Yet I admire his willingness to take up those issues. Let me explain why.

In September 2011, the fiction writer Chetan Bhagat ventured into political writing and in an article titled “Don’t let them divide and rule anymore”  and asked Indian Muslims not to be ‘a hindrance in the change that the “significant part of population” is craving for. I found the Article highly accusatory and putting all the blame for Nation’s woes on the shoulders of Muslims, because they chose to vote in a manner in which ‘they have put their religion before Nation’! I wrote a post in reply, titled What Chetan Bhagat Actually Said to Indian Muslims? calling the bluff of Chetan Bhagat’s arguments against Muslims and the fallacy of his reasoning.  The overwhelming response I received from Indian Muslims and moderate Hindus was very heartening.  It convinced me that not all Indians are as parochial and bigoted as it was being made out on the social media and Internet by sections of ‘speaking India’.

That response made me think about the role Digvijay Singh is playing.  The Muslim community in India has been generally made to feel defensive, due to attacks on them for many reasons that include atrocities of Mughal rulers, partition, terror attacks in the name of jihad, Kashmir and so called appeasement of minorities by ‘pseudo-secular’ parties.  They are declared guilty, even for the Pakistan flags hoisted by anti-social elements from Sri Ram Sena and bomb blasts conducted by extremist elements from Hindu community.

It is unfortunate that currently, there are no credible leaders in Muslim community to defend their cause in public discourse. Mostly they are represented in these talks like Deoband type Mullahs or discredited politicians. Even the silent majority form Hindu community keeps mum due to the fear of being branded as pseudo- secularists or sickulars.  Therefore, when someone from Hindu community or mainstream politics dares to speak up, it comes as a great reassurance to those Muslims who are as Indians and loyal to India, as anybody else is. 

For example, Let us take the issue of Batla encounter.  We all know how Police version can be misleading in matters related to encounter killings.  I am not saying all encounters are stage managed or to be condemned.  Encounters sometimes become necessary and advisable.  However, if victims or any section of the society expresses doubt over a specific encounter it is the duty of the State to conduct proper inquiry and make sure the doubts are cleared, because fake-encounters are not uncommon and in the words of Supreme Court itself, “Fake encounter killings by cops are nothing but cold-blooded brutal murder which should be treated as the rarest of rare offence and police personnel responsible for it should be awarded death sentence“. For more on this, please read my earlier post “Encounters and Firing at Mobs: Can we take the Police versions at face value?” involving another encounter case from Delhi itself.

However, no main stream political leader worth mentioning, other than Digvjay Singh, took up the issue of Batla encounter, in spite of serious doubts being raised on the encounter as well as killing of one of the Police officers involved in that encounter.  Now for all I know Batla may have been a perfectly legal encounter. But don’t the relatives of victims have a right to raise doubts and demand an inquiry? If main stream leaders shun such issues, where will they go? To the unscrupulous religious leaders who are ready to milk the negative sentiments for their own agenda?

That is where Mr Singh’s taking up of the issue becomes important. He gave voice to the aggrieved people and thereby prevented their further alienation. Had government too responded with more empathy and instituted an inquiry into the incident (even if the inquiry ultimately found that the encounter was genuine) that would have acted much more positively in increasing the loyalty of people towards our State. Because "Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done." 

At the cost of repeating, it will be foolhardy to leave the minorities to the ‘minority leaders’ alone.   The Need of the hour is assimilation and that can only be achieved through empathy and support; not through confrontation and insults.

Sangh Parivar Politics
It is no secret that for RSS and its extended Parivar of Hindu right wing groups, Mr Digvijay Singh is the enemy No.1.  RSS even tried to discredit him by publishing photographs of their own meetings in which Mr Singh attended in the past!  Mr Singh also does not hold his punches when it comes to RSS Parivar.   This open tussle again makes Digvijay Singh different from other political leaders. 

We have seen lot of political leaders trying to show off their soft Hindutva side so that they are in the good books of the ‘majority community’.  However, no such ambivalent stand for Mr Singh.  He is consistent in attacking and exposing RSS parivar. Coming from a person who proudly declares that “I am a good practising Hindu unlike most of the VHP Leaders who have collected funds for Ram Temple and used it for political purpose”, the criticism hurts the Sangh Parivar most.  For them, Digvijay Singh represents that vast majority of Hindus who are not willing to surrender to their parochial agenda that is based on exclusivist ideology and in fact against the tenets of Hinduism itself. They know very well that this practising Hindu from an erstwhile royal family has enough credibility when it comes to speaking on Hindu’s matters, unlike minority leaders or other political leaders who are not Hindu enough.  They cannot attack Mr Singh on the ground of his ancestry, like some of them do against Prime Minister who is a Sikh, or UPA Chairperson who is a Christian, by birth. 

To add fuel to the fire, he is apparently the one mentoring Rahul Gandhi in transitioning from a Gandhi scion to a true grassroots leader and seemingly doing not so bad job at that (in any case a better job than what others would like him to do)!

My single most important complaint against Congress party today is that it depends more on lawyers and less on real politicians.  Mr Digvijay Singh is one exception to that.  He is a true political leader; therefore, he is able to speak and stand up for what he considers right and take up and deal with issues politically.  One may agree or disagree with what Mr Digvijay Singh may speak; but one cannot neglect what he is speaking.  All his detractors have learned that.  No wonder he is the Congress politician who is subjected to maximum abuse in the virtual world, even more than Mrs Sonia Gandhi herself. 

Mr Singh has had his failings as well but that is true for every human being including politicians.  I analysed only certain aspects of him that I value and that makes him stand out in the crowd.   I know some readers might disagree with me; but then we are all entitled to our own views!

Of late I have been told by many people on Twitter to stop mentioning him or even re-tweeting his tweets.  To them, always my answer is Digvijay Singh is one politicians from the Congress side whom I respect and also that it is not good manners on Twitter to tell others what to tweet or what not to tweet! 

Updated on 25 October 2012


  1. Love him or Hate him, But none can ignore him – That’s Digvijaya Singh!

  2. I honestly believe he is insane and should not be taken seriously...Only motive in life is to spread Rumours

  3. Digvijaya Singh is hopeless case. No use discussing about that moron.

  4. Bawda ho gaya hai ke...

  5. Wonderful analysis. Keep up the good work.

  6. The VHP leader togadia
    said that if BJP wins 2014 elections
    then Muslims wont b given any administrative post.
    Such statements are not analysed by you.
    Narendra Modi says 'pilla' to muslims this is not observed by you.
    And howsoever u try Digvijaya ji is a strong nd simple leader
    who speaks straight without any fear.
    And what he speaks directly hits BJP therefore BJP has announced him insane to divert people from him. Because what he speaks is true and may remove the layer of lie which BJP has covered people with on the name of Hindutva. But the truth is Nobody among them knows what is Hindutva.